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G.R. No.

143365 December 4, 2008 GENEROSO


SALIGUMBA, ERNESTO SALIGUMBA, and HEIRS
OF SPOUSES VALERIA SALIGUMBA AND ELISEO
SALIGUMBA, SR., petitioners, vs. MONICA
PALANOG, respondent.

TOPIC: REVIVAL OF JUDGMENT ON MONEY CLAIMS; REVIVE, THEN FILE AS MONEY CLAIM

NATURE OF THE CASE: This is an appeal to the decision by the RTC ruling against the Saligumbas in a
petition for revival of an earlier judgment also ruled against them.

FACTS: Spouses Monica and Avelino Palanog filed a complaint for quieting of title with damages against
spouses Valeria Saligumba and Eliseo Saligumba, Sr. with the RTC. The spouses Palanogs alleged that
they have been in actual, open, adverse and continuous possession as owners for more than 50 years of
a land in Aklan. Allegedly, the spouses Saligumbas prevented them from entering and residing on the
said property and had destroyed the barbed wires enclosing the land. Thus, spouses Palanogs prayed
that they be declared the true and rightful owners of the same.

During the proceedings, Eliseo Saligumba Sr. died in 1984, while Valeria Saligumba also passed
away the following year. However, Atty. Miralles, failed to inform the court of the said events. Further, he
was appointed as an MCTC judge and told the court that he would withdraw as counsel for the spouses
Saligumbas because of it. But, on the date of the presentation of evidence of the spouses Saligumbas,
only spouses Palanogs and their counsel appeared. Thus, upon motion of the spouses Palanogs, the
spouses Saligumbas were deemed to have waived the presentation of their evidence.

On August 7, 1987, the RTC rendered jugment declaring the spouses Palanogs as the righful
owners of the land and ordering the spouses Saligumbas to vacate the premises. The trial court also
directed that a copy of its decision be furnished to Monica Palanog and Valeria Saligumba. Later, a
motion for the issuance of a writ of execution of the said decision was filed. However, on May 8, 1997, the
trial court ruled that since more than 5 years had elapsed after the date of the decision's finality, the
decision could no longer be executed by mere motion.

So, on May 9, 1997, Monica Palanog, who is now a widow, filed an action to revive and enforce
the RTC decision on 1987 which she claimed has not been barred by the statute of limitations. Eliseo
Saligumba Jr. and Eduardo Saligumba who are heirs and children of spouses Saligumbas were also
impleaded in the new action. Apparently, Eliseo Saligumba Sr. died in 1984, while Valeria died in 1985.
Further, no motion for the substitution of the spouses was filed nor did an order issue for the substitution
of the deceased spouses Saligumbas in the complaint filed by spouses Palanogs. Accordingly, Atty.
Miralles and Eliseo Saligumba Jr. never confirmed the death of the spouses despite notices sent to them
to appear. Moreover, the siblings were declared in default for failure to file any responsive pleading.
RTC: On The trial court ruled in favor of Monica Palanog and ordered the revival of the 1987 judgment. It
also ruled that the non-substitution of the deceased spouses did not have any legal significance as it was
solely the negligence of the spouses Saligumba's counsel by failing to inform the court of the death of his
client. Hence this present petition filed by the siblings Saligumba.

Heirs of Spouses Saligumbas: The 1987 decision should be rendered void since there was no proper
substitution of the deceased spouses Saligumbas despite the trial court's knowledge that the deceased
spouses Saligumbas were no longer represented by counsel. Thus, they were deprived of due process.
Moreover, since the trial court acknowledged in its ruling that the lack of substitution was the fault
of Atty. Miralles of the spouses Saligumbas, thus, the 1987 decision has no legal effect because
their parents were not duly represented by the said counse. Further, they contend that they have never
taken part in the proceedings of the case which was decided in 1987, therefore, “[i]t’s unfair to bind them
in a decision rendered against their deceased parents.”

ISSUE: Whether or not the revival of judgment in this case was proper considering that the defendants in
the action for revival were not the original contending party in the original case.

Held: Yes. "An action for revival of judgment is no more than a procedural means of securing the
execution of a previous judgment which has become dormant after the passage of five years without it
being executed upon motion of the prevailing party. It is not intended to re-open any issue affecting the
merits of the judgment debtor’s case nor the propriety or correctness of the first judgment.

An action for revival of judgment is a new and independent action, different and distinct from
either the recovery of property case or the reconstitution case, wherein the cause of action is the decision
itself and not the merits of the action upon which the judgment sought to be enforced is rendered. Revival
of judgment is premised on the assumption that the decision to be revived, either by motion or by
independent action, is already final and executory."

In the instant case, the 1987 judgment of the RTC had been rendered final and executory by the
lapse of time with no motion for reconsideration nor was an appeal having been filed. Furthermore, there
was no formal withdrawal received and approved by the court from Atty. Miralles as the counsel of the
spouses Saligumbas at that time, thus, since there was no such formal withdrawal, he remained the
counsel for the spouses Saligumbas until the RTC rendered judgment. His acts bind his clients and the
latter’s successors-in-interest. Additionally, it was shown on record that Eliseo Saligumba Jr.was also
furnished copies of the trial court’s orders and notices. It is also clear that in the present case for revival
of judgment, the other petitioners have not shown much interest in the case

It is also important to take note that the complaint filed at that time was an action for quieting of
title with damages which is an action involving real property. It is an action that survives pursuant to
Section 1, Rule 87 as the claim is not extinguished by the death of a party. And when a party dies in an
action that survives, Section 17 of Rule 3 of the Revised Rules of Court provides for the procedure, thus:
Section 17. Death of Party. - After a party dies and the claim is not thereby extinguished, the court shall
order, upon proper notice, the legal representative of the deceased to appear and to be substituted for
the deceased, within a period of thirty (30) days, or within such time as may be granted. If the legal
representative fails to appear within said time, the court may order the opposing party to procure the
appointment of a legal representative of the deceased within a time to be specified by the court, and the
representative shall immediately appear for and on behalf of the interest of the deceased. The court
charges involved in procuring such appointment, if defrayed by the opposing party, may be recovered as
costs. The heirs of the deceased may be allowed to be substituted for the deceased, without requiring the
appointment of an executor or administrator and the court may appoint guardian ad litem for the minor
heirs. (Emphasis supplied)

Under the express terms of Section 17, in case of death of a party, and upon proper notice, it is
the duty of the court to order the legal representative or heir of the deceased to appear for the deceased.
In the instant case, it is true that the trial court, after receiving an informal notice of death by the mere
notation in the envelopes, failed to order the appearance of the legal representative or heir of the
deceased. There was no court order for deceased’s legal representative or heir to appear, nor did any
such legal representative ever appear in court to be substituted for the deceased. Neither did the
respondent ever procure the appointment of such legal representative, nor did the heirs ever asked to be
substituted.